Introduction: DIY Machine Embroidery

About: I'm a Designer, Creator, Inventor. #1 Hobby - brainstorming. I invented the Unicorn Poop cookie, as published here on instructables. And now I am a metalsmith. <3

If you've always loved embroidering but you've seen it as too much work sometimes...Here is your answer.  Machine Embroidery!

All you need is a sewing machine, compatible "darning foot" and a couple more things.  It's super easy once you get the hang of it.  And most importantly - it's nifty, gifty and impressive!

I've made my mom a cowboy pillow, myself - the makings of a Charmmy Kitty purse, and future projects will be Christmas gifts.  This is the perfect solution for gifting a personalized item on a budget.  You can see a tie that I did - HERE - and it was from the dollar store!  Pretty awesome.  

Step 1: Needs:

A darning foot compatible with your sewing machine.  (I got mine on ebay for $10 from China.)
Thread, machine, scissors, basics.
Super Solvy - water soluble stabilizer. - Use a coupon!
Fabric or a project idea.
Source image - coloring book, printed image, etc.  OR just freestyle your image.
Embroidery Hoop - optional to stabilize fabric while sewing.

Step 2: How to Install a Darning Foot.

I wasn't able to find clear instructions on this subject anywhere online, so I had to figure it out.  Hopefully this will be of help to someone else!  :)

Basically, I will put notations on the images in the steps.  BUT, the idea is to loosen the screw on the left of the presser foot.  That will practically make the presser foot fall down/off.  Once you've done that , you need to take a look at your darning foot and figure out where the screw needs to rest, and tighten to hold THAT one into place.  Once you've found the direction, you slip it under the setup, make sure to put the screw in the groove of where the foot will be stabilized - then tighten the screw.  This will secure it in place.

To test that you've done it right, go ahead and press UP, from the bottom of the presser foot to make sure that it will give into the spring action that is needed for the free-motion embroidery.

Step 3: How to Machine Embroider.

It's really what you make of it!

Tuck your thread under the presser foot before you sew and make sure that you have long tails, or hold the threads when you start sewing so that you don't lose them when you sew in this different style.

Basically, first step is NOT to back stitch.  You will tie off your ends later.  Just GO.  That's what you have to do, GO GO GO GO.  And where you go, is up to you.  :)

Tips:  It's important to know - if you move the fabric quickly, you will create LONG stitches, or big gaps.  So you want to SEW FAST, but MOVE YOUR FABRIC SLOW.  Does that make sense?  By sewing normally, you get consistent stitches, and with slow moving fabric, you have CONTROL over what you're doing.    

Just practice, you will see what I mean.  :)  

Owie Tip:  Make sure to keep  your fingers clear of the needle and the screw that pounds down on the presser foot when you sew.  Sometimes if you get in tight quarters, you could hold the tip of the fabric and when the needle comes down to sew, that screw-ma-bob will pound you in the finger.

Step 4: Tie the Knot!

Once you've sewn your design, it's time to stop, cut your "tails" long, then worry about keeping them in place.

You will have your starting point to tie off, and your ending point to secure also.

Turn your fabric over - to the back.  Pull the thread in the direction that disrupts the stitch that is holding it in place.  That last stitch is the one that you want to pull out, to the back, right next to the one you just tugged on.

Once you have the two of them together, just double or triple knot them, snip short and repeat at any starting and ending points elsewhere on your project.

Tip:  Use a pin to pick at the loop and pull it out.  So easy!

Step 5: Characters, Patterns and More!

Now if you want to make something for someone and you need it to be a specific design - this is the magic.  Super Solvy.  I got mine at Joanns with a coupon and I love this stuff!

Basically, you cut the size that you need to fit your pre-printed image.  Use a sharpie to trace your image onto it.  Then you can pin the outline onto your fabric and use painters tape to secure it further if you need to.

Sew right over your oulines.

JUST MAKE SURE:  If you want continuous lines, you can keep going strategically.  BUT, if you want your character to look accurate, you're going to need to stop and start and tie off each portion or line before moving onto the next lines.  That will create a clean image.

Also - I like to trace over the image between 3 and 4 times to make sure that it is substantial.  To practice depth of field, use thin lines versus triple-traced lines, like my tie fighters!

Once you've sewn and tied all the edges off, you're practically done!  You can use small scissors if you decided to applique like my  Charmmy Kitty, or just go straight to the rinse-stage if you did your design directly onto the fabric.

You can wash your project or run it under a stream of water to get rid of the plastic film.  Ta-Dah!!!

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